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We are putting together a kit of picture books and a narrative on how parents can use the books to help a child with early literacy. We want to use an imperative sentence to tell the parent to ask the child some specific points about the book. For example, when explaining how a parent should interact with the child when reading "Little White Rabbit,' we want the parent to ask the child questions. This is how we word it now....

Ask: What is the little rabbit afraid of?

Is the sentence formatted correctly? How should the sentence be worded?

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    It's a stylistic choice. You've chosen to set down verbatim the exact words you want the parent to say to the child, which gives many options as to how you should punctuate (or use a different font) to delineate those exact words. Alternatively you could adopt the simpler form of just writing "Ask what the little rabbit is afraid of", and assume the parent will know how to recast that instruction as a question to be put to the child. – FumbleFingers May 17 '13 at 17:47
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As @FumbleFingers said, this is a stylistic choice. I would consider either of the following "correct":

Ask your child, "What is the little rabbit afraid of?"

Ask your child what the little rabbit is afraid of.

Personally I would use the second which I find more natural. The form you used in your question seems less so:

Ask: Question text

I wouldn't go as far as calling it incorrect (whatever that may mean) but I would not use it. At the very least I would put the suggested question in quotes if you want the parent to repeat it verbatim.

  • +1 I was typing almost the same thing when you posted this. :) – Narendra Singh May 17 '13 at 18:13
  • If you are conducting a psychology experiment then you should prescribe precisely what is said. This allows comparison between different cases. If you are simply encouraging parents to interact with their children then a more naturalistic style using the parents own words may be preferable. – chasly from UK Nov 12 '15 at 1:18

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